As Smith demonstrates in his charming book, no fiesta is complete without mariachis, a band that includes a singer back by musicians who play Spanish guitar, a guitarron (a small bass guitar with a rounded back) a vihuela ( a high-pitches guitar with five strings), violins, and at least two trumpets. Sadly, young Gustavo belongs to a family of mariachis and he cannot seem to find his place. When he tries to play his brothers violin, he's met with: "Don't touch the bow of my violin, You might break it." After much contemplation, Gustavo starts to sing. The townspeople awaken to his magnificent voice and discover he would make a wonderful mariachi singer. This story of youthful triumph is perfectly matched with bold and vibrant illustrations. Not only do children learn about mariachis, but they're also encouraged to search for their own special talent.
Gustavo wants to be in the family mariachi band, but he can't play the violin, trumpet or guitar. He feels left out and unskilled. Many young readers will relate to Gustavo's feelings and to his yearning for a unique talent. The vivid illustrations show the boy, accompanied buy his canine buddy, visiting the desert near his home in the early mornings. Gustavo finds the cacti and the sky's black bowl of stars so beautiful that he just has to sing - and in so doing, recognizes what he can best contribute to the band. Written in English, with concept words in Spanish, this charming story introduces young English speakers to another language and culture, while the simple vocabulary and short sentences will help young Spanish speakers develop a better understanding of English.
What a sweet story. Gustavo is a wonderful character that kids can relate to, and the illustrator did a beautiful job capturing his feelings. As novice Spanish speakers, books that embed the language and use repetition to demonstrate context and vocabulary are easier for us to read. The illustrations are a wonderful complement to the story and while colorful, do not overwhelm the reader.
The story itself is simplistic. Young readers will have no trouble navigating the words alone. The illustrations are simply gorgeous, with a blend of warm and cool colors splashing across each page. Each image tells such a strong story, the words often feel unnecessary. I look forward to more books from Raven Tree Press.
I can't tell you, Amigas, how MUCH we thoroughly enjoy this book. If you have children, we highly recommend it. If you have little boys, it is a "must read." My son is two, and I think we have read this book almost every night for the last month. As soon as we lay down on the bed, his little hand reaches for it. Even my daughter favors this story over others.